HCCI calls for a nuanced approach to covid-19 management, and new social interaction guidelines for vaccinated clients and carers

Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI) is calling on NPHET and the Government to move forward with a more nuanced approach to managing covid-19, and to provide social interaction guidelines for vaccinated home care clients and their carers so that they can begin leaving isolation safely and confidently.

Joseph Musgrave, HCCI CEO, said, “A little over 3 weeks ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA released guidelines for how people who have been vaccinated can interact with one another.  Although the vaccine programme in the USA is ahead of ours here in Ireland, we are approaching a point where a large number of home care clients will be fully vaccinated and most home carers will have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Given this context, the sweeping national approach to managing the virus no longer makes sense.  Although there are always risks to manage, and we must be vigilant against new variants of the disease, it is a fact that some HCCI clients have been in isolation for more than a year now.  Whilst the resilience of clients and their carers is truly remarkable, this long lockdown has nevertheless had a hugely detrimental effect on their emotional and mental health.

The country needs hope, and leadership.  We have endured about the severest lockdown in the developed world and, within Ireland, those who have been among the most isolated for the past year are our older and vulnerable people.  As more and more of them receive full or partial vaccination, they must be given guidance as to how they can safely engage with society again.  It makes no sense for a fully vaccinated older person to be told that they must remain locked down after enduring this for more than a year.  HCCI is ready to contribute to the development of this guidance in any way we can.  We understand the severity of the situation – indeed our members have been at the frontline of managing the threat.  However, we think now is the time to provide guidelines to allow our older and vulnerable people to safely interact with their family and friends again.  It is time for the strict lockdown to be tempered with hope of the vaccine dividend, which we are thankful is coming to home care before most sectors of Irish life.”

HCCI believes the guidelines should include how those who are fully vaccinated can interact with those who have either received one dose of vaccine or none at all.  It should also cover interactions between fully vaccinated people to, for example, allow older people to meet in social gatherings together.  The advice should include how a vaccinated person can safely socialise  indoors and outdoors; and other types of potential community interaction.

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